Comic Envy keeps Asheville entertained through its collection of comic books


Jon Grunau

Allison Jenkins proudly shows off a compendium of her favorite series of X-Men.

Jon Grunau, [email protected], Contributer

10 a.m. strikes the clock, a chillier than normal April wind cutting through the streets outside of Comic Envy. Allison Jenkins, 36, quickly unlocks the door, right at home amid the sea of colorfully illustrated stories. 

 It takes one word to describe Jenkins, owner of Comic Envy – energetic. 

“I started reading comics as a kid, but not your traditional comics. I didn’t discover a real comic until my time in college,” Jenkins said. “I really started getting into comics once I moved to Asheville.”

Before she graduated from UNC Asheville with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Jenkins didn’t expect her life to turn out the way it did. 

“My first real comic was an early X-Men comic that a new friend in Founder’s Hall showed to me,” Jenkins said proudly. “I started as an education major but found myself in another avenue of study. It was around that time I fell really hard for comics.”

Due to the unique environment Jenkins works to cultivate in her store, it has the feeling of a place to catch up with friends and share common interests. Along with the other game stores in Asheville that cater to a variety of interests, their small section of Asheville has a reputation as a nerd haven. 

“I love the gaming stores in town. So many are within walking distance of the university, so if you’re a student and want to just play board games and read comics, this is the place to be,” Jenkins said. “Not only that, but us game stores have each other’s backs.”

Not just a random collection of stores, the Asheville game community supports each other. With such a strong love for their shared mediums, Asheville’s comic and game community remains tightly-knit. 

Jenkins worked hard to ensure her store was as friendly and welcoming as possible, hiring knowledgeable people to cultivate the right environment for the store.

“Allison is probably the best boss I’ve had in a long, long time. She’s very understanding, she gets how to treat people. She’s very understanding and is very good at being a relatable and kind boss,” said Nick Vitaly, an employee at Comic Envy. 

The enjoyment is clear to see in the staff.

“Change is hard for nerds, but I definitely think Allison is working to keep our base of readers happy. I think that’s the soul and heart of comics, and her being a representation of that is overall better for the community,” Vitaly said. “I’d love to keep working this job for as long as I can.”

Stepping away for a moment to assist a young customer, Nick’s specialty comes right into play as he cheerfully leads them to the store’s manga section, quickly diving into several of his personal recommendations. 

“Comics are so vast, so keeping up with them is an impossible challenge. It’s why I hired Nick to read all of my manga, so that I have a manga expert. I need an open mind to take it all in,” Jenkins said. 

Stepping into the nearby Wyvern’s Tale game store, located mere feet away from Comic Envy, a similar environment is felt. Working behind the counter, Alex Brown has more than positive things to say. 

“I sometimes like to pop into the store to hang out with Allison and talk,” Brown said, walking around the store as if he were a simple customer. “I think she’s a wonderful person who’s done a great job at cultivating such a welcoming environment.”

Walking back over to Comic Envy, Jenkins comfortably resides at home behind the counter, surrounded on all sides by her favorite pastime. 

“I feel more ready and prepared for the future than ever before,” Jenkins said proudly, arranging the last of the preparations before opening. “This is when the season really starts, and it’s just starting to pick back up. Now we’re on the upswing and it’s going to be a positive experience.”

Turning on the rest of the lights, Jenkins writes down a list of recommendations, everything from card game stores, board games stores, arcades and everything in between. 

“We’re all one big community in this town generally. I make sure not to sell things my fellow stores specialize in. I want to do one thing very well, and that’s selling comics. If I can do that, I’ll be happy,” Jenkins said.